Jan 5, 2017 to present

Follows reverse chronological order

March 10, 2017: Lyra’s response to the sound of a nearby garbage truck, both with Mutt Muffs and without.

March 1, 2017: Lyra is pretty calm at the side of a busy road. NB there are no buses.

February 27, 2017: Lyra was okay at this intersection (excited but not over threshold) until 28 seconds into the video (below) when she saw/heard a bus coming towards us. She did not full out panic — but she was distressed. It took her a minute to calm down. The rest of the way home, she was entirely calm — so, some progress, but poor judgment on my part (I thought it would spare her the “scary” intersection).

February 17, 2017: If a garbage truck is several streets away, Lyra is “thrown” by the sound — i.e., she is alert to it, and I can see her shift in focus — but she does not tend to shut down. This video is fairly typical of her current response: she can be re-engaged after the initial “uh-oh” response. Yet she is never unaware of it in the background. NB the truck is at least two blocks away; I can hear the engine revving, but it’s not very loud. But it does show that we can get enough “room” to work on CC.

Lyra at the “scary” intersection, unbothered by cars passing close by.

February 4, 2017: I took Lyra to the vet’s, today, on an errand. I can see a difference (subtle?) in her response to the busy crossing. She was a bit hesitant, but not panicky; and once we began to cross she was fine. It was easier (as usual) coming back the other way. I get the sense that her general anxiety around the street is fading; her fear of buses is beginning to stand out (not that the fear is increasing; just that the trigger is more clearly the bus, not the surrounding traffic). She saw one bus on the way home (at the crossing). She pulled at her leash to get away; yet once we were across the street, she calmed down, and was able to interact with me and sniff an interesting leaf pile! I’ve also noticed that she doesn’t drool when approaching the road — as she used to do.

At the vet’s office, she was pretty calm — wanting to look over the counter, happy to sit on the scale, happy to watch people, happy to eat treats. She “asked” to leave once, but didn’t persist (I was waiting at the desk).


Jan 25, 2017: Lyra is pretty calm crossing a road with three triggers: car, man, and construction vehicles. (There is one edit where I slipped in the mud, which startled Lyra and sent the camera spinning, but she recovered quickly.)

Jan 24, 2017: Last night, I reviewed the initial form that I’d filled out for the veterinary behaviourist in March 2016 (the one that laid out my concerns about Lyra). Interesting! It led me to conclude that

1) Lyra has improved in her sound sensitivity. While she still finds some sounds very aversive, and scary, she seldom shuts down and she bounces back more quickly. E.g., tonight she heard a car (always worse indoors; she’s fine if she hears one outside); she jumped off the sofa to go downstairs, but I was able to engage her with a ball, and she was fine in a moment.

2) in general, she recovers more quickly from a startle event (e.g., novel item, stranger at door).

3) she is more relaxed with strangers at a distance. BUT

4) she is less predictable re. people who engage with her. This last point is perplexing me no end. It is full of “on the one hand … on the other” syntax. She invites a stroke or face rub, then growls at a much-loved person (well, she has done this about 8 times in the past 3 months). She approaches strangers, then backs away. So far, I seem to be the only one who is spared (the only thing she won’t let me do is trim her nails; and even then she just pulls away, she doesn’t growl) which suggests that it’s a fear issue: no one is as familiar to her as I am, or as firmly associated with treats! At least it proves she is capable of being relaxed with someone. Still, I can’t figure out why she’s become nervous with family (even if it’s only sporadic), especially as she’s so fond of them and is growing more trusting of me. My one guess is that in the general busyness of the past 6 months, I’ve taken on even more of Lyra’s care; the others spend less time with her. On the whole, though, she is calmer about visitors to the house. If people ignore her (as instructed) she soon relaxes. When the kids have friends over, I “manage” things but no longer worry.

Thoughts on medication/treatment: fluoxetine has likely been helping, if undramatically, but I need to do more work with Lyra around people (as well as traffic). I’ve done little consistent CC/DS around people. I need to shift the priority: e.g., my first step has been to ask immediate family to give her treats more often. The main triggers are: 1) walking straight towards her (if a stranger); 2) reaching out for her (most people, especially men, unless well known), 3) touching her for more than a few seconds (ditto); 4) leaning over her (ditto). I get courage from the fact that she can — and often does — feel happy with people.

Jan 5, 2017: It has been a few months since I took Lyra across a certain stretch of the hydro field. Her general improvement with traffic noises renews my hope that she will one day be able to cross the “scary” road — bisecting the field — i.e., the one that has been her bugbear from 8 weeks on.

Today, I took a video of her approach to the road. At first, she seemed happy to approach. As we waited, however, her anxiety grew, though not enough to trigger avoidance (it looks as if she is trying to escape, at one point, but she is moving to check out two nearby pedestrians). I wonder if duration is a factor. (Would it matter how long we waited, though, if she truly had a +CER?) When it comes time to cross, she seems to relax — until a bus approaches the lights (the point when we’ve made it to the other side). At this point, she refuses a treat — which she accepts when we’ve got a few yards distance from the bus. My conclusion is that she’s okay with “normal” traffic (if slightly aroused) but still not at all comfortable with buses. No surprise there … On the whole, she seems more at ease than a year ago, but it’s clear that she has not developed a positive association. She simply tolerates it, until she doesn’t.